UNDATED– Ninety-nine thousand Minnesotans are living with Alzheimer’s – and that number stands to grow in coming years, according to new data released by the Alzheimer’s Association.

Molly O’Brien, Chief Strategy Officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, says the new report says the number of people in Minnesota diagnosed with the disease is expected to increase by over 20 percent in the next five years.

“Every 62 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s,” O’Brien said. “This is the fourth leading cause of death in Minnesota, more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.”

O'Brien says Alzheimer's deaths are trending in a different direction than those from many other diseases.

“In the past 20 years, we’ve seen deaths from heart disease decrease by more than seven percent, whereas Alzheimer’s deaths have increased by 145 percent,” O’Brien said. “Part of this is that we have a huge aging population.”

The death rate among Minnesotans with Alzheimer’s has also been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and O’Brien says it's pushed medical researchers to “lean in more” to the search for effective treatment options.

“The death rate among individuals with the disease has increased so much in the past year, and part of that is that the pandemic has impacted people living with (Alzheimer’) in those settings,” she said. “It’s hard to do social distancing in those long-term care facilities. And, it’s been hard on those loved ones who are used to visiting their loved ones regularly.”

“It’s been a stressful time for all,” she added.

To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association, visit their website.

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